Genital Warts and Treatment
Parasites, viruses, bacteria and infections caused by infectious diseases can show symptoms in various places in the body, from the skin surface to the brain.
Parasites, viruses, bacteria and infections caused by infectious diseases can show symptoms in various places in the body, from the skin surface to the brain. Infections occurring in the genital area are also important problems that affect the living conditions and health of the individual. Genital warts, which are infections caused by viruses in this region, can be seen in both men and women. Genital warts in and around the genital organ and in the anus area may manifest itself with itching, irritation and sometimes bleeding. The factor that causes warts among genital infections is the HPV agent called “Human Papilloma Virus”. HPV has a significant prevalence value among sexually transmitted virus infections.
What is Genital Wart?
Human Herpes Virus is a type of pathogen that is located in the genital area of men and women and is named according to its location, the most commonly known agents being HPV 6 and 11. The disease it causes is called condyloma akimulatum. In women, around the vulva, anus, groin area, cervix; In men, it is seen in the testicles, scrotum, groin area and anus. Brown and red bumps resembling skin tags settle in the infected area as reddened skin lesions that are sometimes invisible to the naked eye. Patients may not notice these viruses in their invisible stages and may not take action on early treatment. Another virus that causes genital warts is the smallpox virus, also known as poxvirus. Smallpox virus rarely settles in the genital area and responds to treatment in a short time. However, genital warts caused by HPV show more serious clinical conditions. Although full recovery is not expected for warts caused by HPV, treatment is aimed to control wart attacks. Genital warts are transmitted sexually or through skin contact by touching the genital area of a patient with warts.
Genital Warts Causes and Risk Factors
Although the causes of genital wart infection vary from person to person, more than one factor may be a reason for virus infection. Among these, the most common cause is HPV types. HPV types that cause genital warts are divided into two: those that cause warts only on the skin surface or those that cause cancer. The most common types of HPV that cause cancer are 16 and 18, and the ones that do not become cancerous and cause wart infection on the skin are HPV 6 and 11. HPV usually occurs at an early age. It manifests itself at an earlier age and with a more severe course in women. Risk factors that cause genital warts can be listed as follows:
- The immune system does not work normally or is suppressed compared to a healthy individual: Since the immune system is the most important system that fights viruses and other pathogens that enter the body, the risk of infection increases if it does not work normally.
- Contact with someone who has genital warts: Anal, oral or vaginal intercourse with someone who has a wart infection poses a risk to the person. In addition, even if there is no direct sexual intercourse, contact with a skin surface touched on the genital area of an infected individual and the genital organ of a healthy individual is also a risk.
- unprotected sexual intercourse: Using a condom during intercourse reduces the risk of infection. However, it is not correct to say that the risk of infection is 100% prevented. Because skin contact with exposed infected areas in the genital area is not recommended during sexual intercourse.
- Multiple partners: Sexual intercourse with more than one partner is an important source of acquiring and carrying the infection. Even if an individual has signs of the virus, he or she may not show symptoms. However, another individual who comes into contact with the same person may show symptoms of infection in a short time and show a more serious picture than the other individual, as the immune system cannot suppress the virus.
- Active sexual life at a young age: Starting sexual life at an early age may be a source of more serious cases such as cervical cancer if genital wart infection is not noticed or treated at later ages. In addition, genital wart infection is specific in that it is diagnosed more frequently in women, especially in the 18-24 age range. Although it starts at a slightly older age in men, diagnosis at an early age is more common in both genders.
What are the symptoms of genital warts?
Differences in the immune systems of individuals play an important role in the symptoms of virus infections, their causes, treatment and all stages of the disease. In some individuals, warts only show symptoms as red and slightly raised skin lesions. For this reason, there may be a delay in applying to a healthcare institution and taking immediate action in treatment. In some cases, raised, cauliflower-type warts that are brown or lighter in color than the skin color may occur. Generally, in both cases, pain and suffering are not accompanied. This situation may also prevent the person from suspecting genital warts and getting treatment immediately. In addition to the genital area, warts are also seen in the mouth and lips, pharynx, hands and feet, groin, and abdomen. Due to the sexual transmission of the disease, genital organs are the first places where lesions are seen. It is also possible to see warts around the mouth due to oral intercourse with the individual with the wart infection, around the anus due to anal intercourse, and on the limbs due to other skin contact. Genital warts can progress without any symptoms, or they can progress with symptoms and increase in number. Genital warts, which occur especially around the vagina in women, can cause bleeding when the vagina is stretched. Especially in pregnant women with genital warts, viruses transmitted to the baby through the cervix may cause warts to form in the baby’s throat and cause breathing difficulties in the baby. In other words, HPV infection occurring in the mother can be transmitted to the baby during the prenatal period. After contact with an individual with HPV infection, infection develops after an incubation period lasting between 2-6 months. However, after some contacts, infection may not develop at all.
How Are Genital Warts Diagnosed?
Since the severity of the symptoms of genital warts varies from person to person, correct diagnosis and treatment are very important. Because genital warts seen at an early age can become cancerous if left untreated. It can turn into private area carcinomas, such as cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men, and cancerous tissues can also form in the oral area and around the throat in both genders. Genital warts are diagnosed using several different methods:
- Vaginal examination with speculum
- Taking a swab with the help of a Pap smear test
- Direct visualization of warts with colposcopy
- Biopsy and blood test
Patients diagnosed with genital warts as a result of tests and examinations performed with differential diagnosis receive treatment according to the status of the infection and the viral load in the body.
How to Treat Genital Warts?
In the treatment of HPV, which is the cause of genital warts, we talk about completely clearing the lesions on the skin, rather than talking about complete healing. Because even if treatment is applied to relieve symptoms and complaints, warts may recur as long as the virus remains in the body. There are various treatment methods aimed at reducing and completely stopping the patient’s wart attacks:
- Freezing with cryotherapy
- Burning lesions with cautery or laser beams
- Removing lesions that increase in size through a surgical incision
- Dermatological treatment of warts with creams that modulate the immune system
- Destroying lesions with a method similar to burning with radiofrequency
After treatment, it is recommended to avoid contact and sexual intercourse for a while to allow the area where the warts are located to heal. In addition, the treatment aims to keep the patient’s body function values within the normal range with medications that regulate and strengthen the immune system. It is recommended that the patient pay attention to personal hygiene, nutrition, and avoiding unprotected intercourse with more than one partner. As long as the patient follows the doctor’s recommendations after treatment, an effective recovery process is observed.